For this summer, the Legion of Honor just unveiled its new exhibition Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade


Ballet dancers come to mind in the first place when one thinks of Degas. But definitely neither hats nor millinery trade.


It happens that Edgar Degas was enthralled with  specific aspect of modern life in the French capital at the end of the 19th century: high-fashion hats and the women who created them. Degas's fascination inspired a visually compelling and profoundly modern body of work that documents the lives of what one fashion writer of the day called ''the aristocracy of the workwomen of Paris''. Despite the importance of millinery as a subject in Degas's oeuvre, there has been little discussion of its place in Impressionist iconography, until now. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco bring new light to the subject with this brand new exhibition, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade.



The exhibition features more than 40 Impressionist paintings and pastels, including key works by Degas, as well as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Approximately 40 spectacular examples of period hats - including nine from the Fine Arts Museums’ collections, and the other ones from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  - also will be displayed, giving like a 3D version of details depicted in the paintings. These works present the social and historical context of the millinery trade, which captivated Degas and his peers. 



The Legion of Honor is once again hosting a splendid exhibition, original, rich, and diverse. Follow the thread along 6 rooms where you will discover men (just a few) and essentially women's hats, flowered, ribboned, plumed hats, simple and exuberant hats, black and colorful ones, women wearing hats and women creating, designing and making them, beautiful, beaming women and more discrete and reserved ones.


This exhibit reveals a very modern Paris, then considered the fashion capital of the world (is it still the case?), focusing on a very specific microcosm, all about hats, their creators, and consumers.


Beyond the documentary aspect of this exhibition, you will love the colors, the textures, the fabrics, the materials, all the details given to this essential fashion item at that time, when nobody, man or woman, would have gone out without wearing a hat. 



We definitely recommend the exhibition.We also recommend to check online the digitial story, a rather new service offered by the Museum. Most probably the best and most efficient way to prepare your visit, and to improve your experience with details and hints to guide you through the artworks.


 > digitalstories.famsf.org/degas



Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade

@ the Legion of Honor Museum

June 24 to September 24, 2017

Visit the Legion of Honor website